As a lifelong student-athlete, I'm a big fan of bringing cheesy sports metaphors into the academic vernacular. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" feels very appropos to the grant and job application process, while the Nike slogan "Just Do It" is pretty much the only way to get through a long writing project. So when it comes to defending one's dissertation, people are always tempted to invoke "The best defense is a good offense" as in the comics below.
However, the dictum "There's no 'I' in 'TEAM'" is much more relevant, as the dissertation defense is one of the few - perhaps only - times that a doctoral candidate's entire academic team is assembled. I was fortunate to have a well-balanced team of five knowledgeable coaches in my corner. For my 9 years at Boston University, my primary advisor Gregory Williams has been a receptive listener, knowledgeable teacher, and motivating mentor. My second reader, Patricia Hills, has provided critical feedback as well as firsthand insight on the 1970s art world (it was not uncommon for her to casually remark in the margins of my drafts that she was having brunch with the scholar I cited the next morning). Jenni Sorkin far exceeded the expectations of an external third reader by guiding my professionalization process and deepening my craft consciousness. BU professors Ana María Reyes and Cynthia Becker rounded out the committee, taking time out of their busy teaching and research programs to ensure that I was attentive to issues of race and coloniality. After I finished, I was surprised by a campus visit from my three favorite cheerleaders: my husband and my parents!
The format and structure of a doctoral defense can vary from field to field, school to school, and even committee to committee. For example, the Lego Grad Student (above) gave a Powerpoint presentation. Mine was more of a conversation about how I can improve upon the project, deepen my analysis, and ultimately develop my project into a book. I am excited to tackle my revisions and start the next chapter!
DR. PROFESSOR PARRISH, PHD!!!!